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Customer Reviews

Cambridge Audio CXA81

Stereo integrated amplifier with built-in DAC and Bluetooth®

MFR # C11130K

Cambridge Audio CXA81

Cambridge Audio CXA81

Stereo integrated amplifier with built-in DAC and Bluetooth®

MFR # C11130K

58 reviews
View this product

Powerful Clear Amplifier

Crutchfield customer from The Villages, FL on 2/17/2021

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I had the AXR-85 Cambridge Audio stereo receiver, upgraded to the CXA81 integrated amp. Very clear recording compare to the AXR85.Have it hooked up to the Cambridge Audio AXC35 CD player going through the Metra ethereal Coax digital cable. I only listen to CD's. The high end is very crisp and powerful. Mid-range and bass are very good. I have REL T7i subwoofer. So I have to say on newer Cd recordings I have never heard quality sound that I hear going through my Wharfedale Diamond 11.4 speakers. I wish I could say the same on some of my older CD recordings. It all depends on the recordings, because some are much improved sound. May get another Sub for stereo. Every listening session I hear things I've never heard from any other amp. When you have the subwoofer set up right your speakers are going to disappear. Over all very happy with this amp.

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0 of 0 found this helpful

New Sound to an older audiophile.

Crutchfield customer from Atlanta, GA on 2/14/2021

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Straight forward, simply for the awesome aural experience. The sound is so crisp and clear. I just upgraded from an old JVC receiver and classic(70's) ESS tower speakers. I paired the CA integrated amplifier with Klipsch RP-280F speakers and I am just blown away. I love to sneak down to my basement and just rock the house! The advisors and tech support at Crutchfield have been great.

Pros: Clean sound. Uncomplicated setup. Bluetooth connectivity using iTunes.

Cons: Too much power!!!

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0 of 0 found this helpful

Cambridge Audio CXA81

Valentin from MIAMI, FL on 2/14/2021

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As someone who's just starting the audiophile journey, I did a lot of research before ordering my first equipment. I decided on the CX series from Cambridge Audio as it seemed to meet the happy spot of good quality, great sound, price, and design. The very first experience could not be worse. Excited to finally enjoy amazing sound, I hooked up this amplifier to its CD transport only to find out that it doesn't work, right off the box. I called customer support and it will get replaced, but now this "great" amplifier seems to be very popular and it's on back order and because of covid19 I won't get the new one at least in a month. So, $3,000 later (including amplifier, cd transport, speakers and cables) I still can't enjoy the amazing sound I was promised. I'll update this review after I finally receive a good amplifier.

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0 of 3 found this helpful

Cambridge Audio CXA81

Crutchfield customer from Camillus, NY on 2/14/2021

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Bluetooth pairing a snap streaming sound quality is remarkable.

Pros: Sound quality

Cons: Need to do research to understand some of the lingo in the on line owners manual.

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0 of 0 found this helpful

Cambridge Audio CXA81

Crutchfield customer from Jacksonville, FL on 2/4/2021

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The CXA81 is truly as advertised. Beautiful full powerful balanced sound. Love love listening to music on this amp.

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0 of 0 found this helpful

Cambridge Audio CXA81

Crutchfield customer from The Colony, TX on 2/3/2021

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Very pleased. Build quality is robust for this price point. Using high efficiency speakers so power is no issue. Purchase the CXA81 over the CXA61 to gain the XLR interconnects to a CXN v2. Black front panel is a design element only, versus a display, and houses the input buttons. Paired with the CXC and CXN v2, I am happy with the purchase. Typical Crutchfield .... service was excellent and shipping was fast.

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1 of 1 found this helpful

Musical detail is astonishing!

Greg J. from Detroit, MI on 1/31/2021

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My goodness! This is the absolute best for those of us loving two channel stereo. Replaced a Yamaha R-N803 receiver with a Dac100 connected. This CXA81 is superior in every way. Couldn't be happier with this unit.

Pros: The sound is amazing.

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1 of 1 found this helpful

Fantastic detail and control

Crutchfield customer from Nashville, TN on 1/4/2021

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Fantastic amplifier. I own a pair of Thiel TM3's and was looking for an amp to power them. I purchased a Parasound NewClassic 200, Audiolab 6000a, and the Cambridge CXA81 for comparison over a few weeks. The TM3's can be finicky to power, really require an amplifier with plenty of headroom even for low listening levels. Both the 6000a and the NewClassic 200 are comparable in power to the CX81, but just cannot compete with regards to detail and imaging. The CX81 has great depth and clarity, at all listening levels, staying quite linear if you want to push things a bit. It maintains the detail and control of the low and low-mid, a place where other amplifiers can fall short, and you can lose the definition of a finger plucked upright, electric bass, or bowed cello. I am utilizing an analog in for my phono preamp, and two of the digital inputs, one each optical and coaxial. The CX81 shines with all three. There are a couple features I would have liked to have seen in the design. First, an input offset in order to more closely gain match inputs, especially between analog and digital sources. Secondly, a small LCD screen to better indicate volume settings and amplifier status. I do appreciate the power save function where it goes to sleep after 20 minutes, but would be preferred if the time was adjustable. Am very happy with this amp and absolutely enjoy listening to it on a daily basis.

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8 of 8 found this helpful

Cambridge Audio CXA81

Crutchfield customer from Kansas City, MO on 1/4/2021

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It works exactly as advertised. I have only had it 2 weeks, check back in a year.

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0 of 1 found this helpful

Cambridge Audio CXA81

Crutchfield customer from Alameda, CA on 12/27/2020

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Sounds wonderful and is a pleasure to use. AptX HD is convenient and sounds good enough that I haven't tried USB Audio yet.

Pros: Sounds great; clean look; good build quality; low- or no- noise; USB Audio and AptX HD.

Cons: Remote needs to point quite accurately; next/previous/play/pause doesn't work for bluetooth.

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2 of 2 found this helpful

Checks most of my needs boxes.

Crutchfield customer from Easton, MD on 12/26/2020

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A great little stereo amp. Pros: a good selection of analog and digital inputs. Sufficient power for bookshelf speakers to very loud volume. 4 Ohm capability. Very low THD. Simple layout and design. Cons: no bass management except RCA sub out port. Would have liked high and low pass filter freq options. No HDMI audio input (for higher res digital audio). Glass window not needed (buttons only would suffice). No Vol control on the remote. Overall, this is pretty close to what I wanted at a fair price.

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5 of 6 found this helpful

Very good integrated amp.

Crutchfield customer from Baltimore, MD on 12/10/2020

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This is a very good integrated amp. The sound is very clear and the controls and remote are easy to use. I bought this amp to replace a much more expensive Bryston BR 60 amp that I used for 20 years. The Cambridge Audio CXA81 sounds very clear and was a good choice.

Pros: Remote control features.

Cons:

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4 of 4 found this helpful

Nice Upgrade from ELAC EA101EQ-G

David from Olathe, KS on 12/10/2020

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Using this with older KEF LS-50s and SBS1000 sub. Easy to set up and so far I am impressed. As one reviewer noted, this amp "expands" the sound stage in that in my small office instead of two distinct sound sources the sounds seems to fill the whole end of the room were the speakers are located. I was using an ELAC EA101EQ-G but understood that I should get better performance out of the LS-50s with more power as they are somewhat "inefficient". That is the case with the CXA81. I have it integrated with an OPPO Blu-ray and Apple Mac Pro via cables for audio. Also, I have used Bluetooth paring with an iPad for iTunes and Amazon Music. All of which sound very good. I must confess that I am not an audiophile and do suffer from some hearing loss in the higher ranges but I do like this amp.

Pros: Plenty of power. Easy to set up. More than enough connection options

Cons: Missing Airplay 2 (but this can be overcome via Bluetooth connection).

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1 of 1 found this helpful

Cambridge Audio CXA81

Crutchfield customer from Lexington, KY on 12/8/2020

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Great sounds and overall awesome amp, my only picky complaint would be the overall design. Would have rather had two dials or a actually display with tone controls.

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3 of 3 found this helpful

Cambridge Audio CXA81

Crutchfield customer from Edwardsville, IL on 12/2/2020

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I love this receiver! I had the Cambridge AXR 85 previously and this receiver has so much more detail. It really was night and day difference. My only real complaint is that it can be a bit bright on some songs (reason for 4 stars). My system consists of CXA81, Triangle Bro8's, Pro-ject RPM 1 turntable, and Mac Mini for digital music. I'm really happy :)

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6 of 7 found this helpful

Awesome integrated amp

Crutchfield customer from Womelsdorf, PA on 11/30/2020

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After trying another manufacturer's 3x more expensive integrated amp and sending it back because it just didn't have the sound that I was looking for I gave the CXA81 a listen. It was exactly what I was looking for. Lesson learned more expensive doesn't necessarily mean it is better. Plugged in my AudioQuest Monsoon IEC power cable, hooked up my Wharfedale Diamond 225 speakers (sensitivity 87 dB) with AudioQuest Rocket 33 bi-wire speaker cables plugged my MacBook Pro using an AudioQuest carbon usb interconnect, turned on Audirvana and started streaming Tidal MQA tunes. My wife immediately said wow that is so clear and articulate and I said to myself this is exactly what I was looking for in clarity, soundstage and silent background. All I can say is awesome integrated amp. It takes a few days for the amp to open up, each day the soundstage grew wider, deeper, and clearer. Now I can't wait for my backordered Cambridge Audio CXN streamer. I have dealt with Crutchfield for several years now and they are the best in customer service.

Pros: Powerful full sound, full of detail and dynamics. Plenty of reserve power on tap, volume dial at 10 O'Clock is almost too loud.

Cons: None!!

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5 of 5 found this helpful

Cambridge Clarity

Crutchfield customer from Ridgway, CO on 11/28/2020

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Super impressed with the clarity and power of this integrated amp. I did a lot of research at this price point and, well, I am thrilled with my choice.

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1 of 2 found this helpful

Sherman

Scott from Sherman on 11/21/2020

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Absolutely terrific unit. Has a very bright sound so if you like treble, this will be a great choice. Tons of power and really drives speakers - I bought the A61 and returned it for the A81 and I can tell the difference with the extra power driving the speakers - even at low volume levels. Wish there were tone controls but since I am a treble person, I am ok with it. Remote is not great - no range at all so have to be within 12 feet or so and the volume control is super sensitive so you have to tap rather than push or volume will be more loud or low than you would probably want. Other negative is if you have your 'B' speakers on in a different room, the sub still plays in the 'A' room. So when we have music on outside with B speakers, the sub plays indoors - not that big of a deal. Lastly, the DAC is great - streaming is terrific. Highly recommends this!

Pros: Sound is amazing

Cons: Remote is terrible

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3 of 3 found this helpful

Exellent sound.

Crutchfield customer from Bellingham, WA on 11/8/2020

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Most importantly: excellent sound! (a worthy upgrade from Onkyo A/V receiver). Looks nice and clean. Good connectivity. I wish there would be: tone controls, second coaxial input, full size headphone jack.

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1 of 1 found this helpful

Relieved

Crutchfield customer from Middlebury, VT on 11/8/2020

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I went through two NAD C658's, using them with an ancient Adcom Amp. First, I had extreme digital jitter. Then I had issues with the phono stage with clicks and dropouts. Thanks to Crutchfield's generous return policy I decided to go in an entirely different direction. Picked up this integrated, using my 2019 MacBook Pro as my streamer and a CA Duo phono preamp. I could not be happier. I connected the MBP to the onboard DAC with a nice USB-C to USB-B cable and it sounds great with MQA and HiRes files. With a little help from Audivirna I'm not missing BluOS at all. The Duo sounds as good, if not better, than any Yamaha phono stage, which is not faint praise. Finally, the amp end of things is plenty powerful to run my vintage Vandersteen 2CE's. The only thing I will miss is Dirac Live. That software, albeit extremely finicky, can make your speakers sing if you know what you're doing when tweaking the EQ. But, I have found the CXA-81 presents a less woofy sound to correct than my other setup and really could only use the tiniest of tweaks.

Pros: Plenty of power, clean sound, great DAC

Cons: No room correction

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2 of 2 found this helpful

Cambridge Audio CXA81

Crutchfield customer from Georgetown, TX on 11/1/2020

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Delighted. Really fine sound, and the functioning is flawless.

Pros: A wonderful amplifier.

Cons: Mone

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0 of 0 found this helpful

Highly Recommended!

Crutchfield customer from Fort Worth, TX on 10/30/2020

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As per most of the previous reviews, a fantastic amp to build your stereo sound system around. Powerful, a plethora of inputs for pretty much any other device and wonderful sound through a pair of B & W 606S2 and a B & W 8" sub. Highly Recommended!

Pros: Well made, beautifully finished and sounds great.

Cons: No phono pre amp but seems like very few amps at this level have one.

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Cambridge Audio CXA81

Crutchfield customer from Haymarket, VA on 10/29/2020

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I've head a set of B&W 683 floorstanders (original model I believe) sitting in the bedroom for many years. Loved them when I demo'ed them but at home my old HK AVR and Pioneer Elite AVR just couldn't wake them up properly. Enter the CXA81! Not only did this 2 channel amp wake them up but brought them roaring to life. Doesn't matter if bluetooth Tidal or Amazon HD, vinyl, or what the source of music is. Fills the room with muscular but smooth music that even my wife can hear. In fact she's been stealing a seat in my listening chair quite frequently since powering this amp up the very first time. The only question to ask is why did I take so long to purchase?

Pros: Looks Simplicity Great powerful but smooth sound

Cons: Nothing I've found yet

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3 of 3 found this helpful

Cambridge Audio CXA81

Crutchfield customer from Mcdonough, GA on 10/20/2020

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An exceptional stereo receiver.

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Great Sound Bad Remote

Rob from Phoenix on 10/5/2020

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First: I love this receiver and I'm very glad I purchased it. The sound, which is by far the most important thing to me, is outstanding, so I am happy. I also am very happy with the on-board DAC; it sounds smoother and less harsh compared to other DACs I have heard. Bluetooth sounds good. I would purchase this unit again. I am running this with big, vintage Altec Santanna speakers circa 1971, so my experience will be very different from folks with newer speakers. The sound on these speakers really shines on tracks that emphasize powerful but non-complex mid ranges: pop, jazz combos and standards, broadway, chamber music, etc. Vocals are powerful with beautiful, full rich tone. Backing instruments are also clear and really sing out. The sound is a lot muddier but still nice on tracks with complex midranges (e.g., orchestral, hard rock, large scale choral, etc.) Bass is strong enough but not very tight on electronic and hip hop tracks. I'm sure these issues are due to my old speakers, but I honestly had been hoping this amp would work some magic on them. I'm a little disappointed but I knew that was wishful thinking. I will need to invest in some new speakers soon. The range on the remote is really bad. I have to stand no more than 12 feet from the front of the amp for it to work, and even then it is sketchy. Also, you cannot use your phone to adjust volume when using bluetooth; you have to have your phone and remote together, and you have to stand close. That ki

Pros: Rich powerful sound on vintage speakers with beautiful tone Great DAC with awesome sound from USB with Tidal; better than Topping D50 DAC and much better sound than vinyl using my older, mid-range turntable Bluetooth sounds good and works very well

Cons: Remote has very poor range (~12 feet max) Can't adjust volume via bluetooth (you need to use the remote) The unit powers off too soon when not in use (need to use the remote to power back on) Would have liked tone and balance controls, but not a deal killer

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7 of 8 found this helpful

Satisfying unit

Crutchfield customer from Des Moines, IA on 10/4/2020

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I'm overall happy with the CXA81 cambridge. It drives my Martin Logan. Motion 60 XT really well but it is a little brighter than I was expecting do to the ribbon tweeter also a little bright. I am getting used to the sound as they are very detailed in the upper frequency and I hesr detailes better than with any other amplifier I have owned. I think it will get better with more break in time It was a choice between this and the NAD C368 and after listening to the NAD 's I wasn't very impressed with them or their operating controls. The main drawback with the Cambridge is the remotes volume control jumps up twice as much as the volume knob control on the unit itself and also does not have a lighted LED telling where the vollume knobs level is displayed. I would have hoped a $1300.00 integrated amp would have that, as my 40 year old Sansui had that feature. I am almost exclusively streaming through a Sonos connect or toslink from my TV. I need to get the Cambridge CD player instead of running through HDMI from my Bluray To the TV then opticsl to the amplifier. Biggest problem is the CD player of the higher priced CD trandport.

Pros: Plenty of power and more inputs than I could ever use.

Cons: A little brighter on the top end than I am used to and don't care for the remotes volume controll.

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5 of 5 found this helpful

Cambridge Audio CXA81

Crutchfield customer from Weymouth, MA on 9/20/2020

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I upgraded from a Pioneer receiver and the difference is huge. The bass handling is significantly better. I previously thought my speakers were just bad at imaging but with this amp the image is much clearer and the soundstaging is much wider. Overall great product and would recommend!

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3 of 3 found this helpful

Cambridge Audio CXA81

Crutchfield customer from Boston, MA on 8/31/2020

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Works well, looks good, sounds great. Glad I bought this.

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2 of 2 found this helpful

Upgraded to CXA81 and Extremely Happy I Did!!!

Crutchfield customer from Winnetka, IL on 8/30/2020

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Test drove the Cambridge Audio AXA35 for 30 days (which was really great) but I felt my speakers would sound better with more punch. The CXA81 is night and day more powerful, better separation, more detail - amazing sound. A Crutchfield associate helped me make the decision and the exchange. I am incredibly impressed with the CXA81 and, paired with the CXN v2 - I just made a massive jump in sound quality, power, and access to my digital library. I am also into vinyl. My Technics SL1500C still sounds amazing running through the CXA81. In fact, I'm hearing a lot more detail on my vinyl as well. As always, great experience with Crutchfield and I will be rocking this amp for many years to come.

Pros: Big power, great detail / separation, and amazing sound. Great design - looks amazing especially when paired with other CA products. Had never used balanced XLR cables before. Makes a noticeable difference for optical. My friends are jealous :)

Cons: No phono preamp but I knew that going in and was not an issue for my current setup.

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3 of 3 found this helpful

Nothing but stereo goodness!

ALan from Morehead City, NC on 8/16/2020

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First of all ignore the multiple reviews that say the remote has no volume control. I does, read the manual. I've finally found an amp to bring out the potential of my 16 year old Polk RTi 150's. Increased soundstage and clarity with which I find myself understanding lyrics and hearing individual instruments I've never been able to resolve before on music I'm very familiar with. Combined the Polks with an SVS SP2000 pro subwoofer and a BluSound Node 2i. The Cambridge CXA81 ties everything together beautifully, couldn't be happier.

Pros: Great sound and plenty of power

Cons: None

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3 of 3 found this helpful

Superior Sound and quality

Crutchfield customer from Rabun Gap, GA on 8/2/2020

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This is a very good amp. You might notice that it sounds a little edgy for the first day or so, as some reviews have pointed out, but the sound quickly becomes detailed, full, and, above all, musical. I found myself being able to relax and just enjoy the music. Build quality is top-notch. My system consists of a Rega Planet CD player, Polk SDA SRS speakers and a TCL television. Connections are all Toslink. I also tried playing the CDs through an analog input; it was excellent, too, though I prefer the Toslink sound. I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of sound from Spotify and Tune-In through my Google Pixel 3 via Bluetooth. If you are considering this amp, you should buy it. You won't be disappointed. It is a joy to use. The service from Crutchfield was excellent. The package arrived on time and was exactly as described. The Cambridge box was inside a Crutchfield box which was plastic wrapped. I don't think you could protect the merchandise any better.

Pros: -- Excellent build quality -- Beautifully detailed and lively sound -- Nice, clean design

Cons: Nothing I can think of

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5 of 5 found this helpful

good

Crutchfield customer from Barrigada, GU on 7/20/2020

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Excellent!

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0 of 1 found this helpful

An outstanding integrated amp, and unbeatable for the money

Crutchfield customer from Tampa, FL on 7/12/2020

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An outstanding integrated amp, and unbeatable for the money. I did a ton of research and this unit came with a lot of hype from its many stellar reviews, so my expectations were high. My setup is built around my computer station and vinyl turntable, and I play UltraHD streaming files and quality vinyl (Components are: TEAC TN400 turntable, upgraded AT VMN40 ML cartridge, Pro-Ject Tube Box DS phono stage, & Audioengine P4 speakers with a 12 inch Polk Sub). I upgraded from the Rotel 12 amp and the CXA81 lives up to its reputation. It delivers crisp, yet warm sound across the spectrum, with a clear, spacious 3D soundstage, even with my small desktop speakers just three feet apart. It excels mightily with Electronica, Jazz and Classical, and everything in between. From the sibilance of YoYo Ma's violin strings, to the rafter shaking beats of Daft Punk, to the mellow tones of John Coltrane's sax, to the sung whispers of Diana Krall, it nails them all with a level of detail and clarity the Rotel (a pretty darn good integrated amp), simply could not. At first listen, I thought the highs were harsh, but this disappeared after an hour of listening with burn in. It is a great companion for vinyl, projecting both warmth and great clarity (a tough balance), with no hum in my setup until very high volumes are dialed in. However, you will need a phono pre-amp, as there is there is none built in, and the remote is pretty useless (no volume control), but these are quibbles.

Pros: Terrific detail and clarity, while retaining warmth. Great 3D soundstage. Bluetooth streaming. TOSlink, USB and Ultra HD capable.

Cons: Remote not very helpful (no volume control). No built in phono stage. Minimal customization options (though not really needed).

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2 of 3 found this helpful

Cambridge Audio CXA81

Crutchfield customer from Randolph, VT on 6/16/2020

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I bought this amplifier to replace a Denon receiver that's over thirty years old. Now my Snell speakers, equally old with replaced woofers, have come into their own. There's music coming out of those wooden boxes that I never heard before now.

Pros: The best hi fi sound that I've heard yet.

Cons: None yet.

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5 of 6 found this helpful

Cambridge Audio CXA81

Crutchfield customer from Bozeman, MT on 6/16/2020

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Replace a reliable, older amp (i.e. 30 yo reliable workhorse) with the CXA81. I noticed an immediate difference in clarity and new enjoyment listening to old favorites. My only complaint is no balance knob but that is small issue that could be easily offset by better speaker placement. Also the need for balance is lessened by the crisper response which enhances the separation between the two speakers. So overall, no complaints about this item, which arrived in 2+ days undamaged despite the 2500 mi travel.

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Wow! Awesome Integrated Amp

Shaun from DURHAM, NC on 5/22/2020

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I am extremely pleased with my CXA-81. I was having problems with my CXA-80 and reached out to Crutchfield to see what could be done. I swapped it out for the. CXA-81 and there's a high difference. The soundstage is better and it handles all different genres with ease. I ordered the CXA-80 because it was cheaper and didn't have any huge differences between the CXA-81...on paper. I thought I needed the tone controls but I truly do not. I think that's something to take note. Cambridge made a product so well that they were like "Nah, you won't be any adjustments" and they're right. The amp doesn't need a phone stage... build your own system. It's fun. If it's that important to you then this isn't the product for you. I'm completely satisfied with this Amp. Thank you Nemo at Crutchfield for helping pick the right product.

Pros: Sabre DAC No phono input Huge Soundstage Bi-wire speaker connection

Cons: At this price point...none

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4 of 5 found this helpful

Cambridge Audio CXA81

Crutchfield customer from Brambleton, VA on 5/8/2020

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I paired this with my old sanus faber concertos, rega sp3 with musical fidelity phono amp and the sound is so amazing! Took me a long time to choose it by reviewing several comparable two channel integrated amps. The availability of the XLR audio inputs is what sealed the choice. So glad that I did!

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Love it!

Crutchfield customer from Los Angeles, CA on 4/28/2020

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This is fantastic! A very lively sound. Tight bass and very clear highs! Does an excellent job driving the LS50s.

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8 of 8 found this helpful

Cambridge Audio CXA81

Crutchfield customer from Orlando, FL on 4/23/2020

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I am very pleased with the performance of the Cambridge amplifier. It performs as advertised. My only regret is that the controller doesn't provide for volume adjustment. As far as sound reproduction, channel separation, and appearance, i am totally satisified.

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3 of 8 found this helpful

Exceptional clarity & detail!

Crutchfield customer from S Burlington, VT on 4/17/2020

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I purchased this amp as I needed more power to drive my Wharfedale 10.2 bookshelf speakers. They are quite inefficient, at just 86dB sensitivity and a 6-ohm load. I originally purchased a Marantz PM-8006 (70 WPC@8ohm, 85 WPC@ 6ohm), hoping it would have the juice to bring my Wharfedales to life, but it did not. I'm a big fan of the Marantz sound and build quality, and while it's an excellent amp, and would work with more efficient speakers, it didn't work for me. So after doing a ton of research, I arrived at this Cambridge unit. It's a well-reviewed, award wining amp, and with putting out 80 WPC@8ohms and 100WPC@6ohms, I thought this would surely have the power I need for my Wharfedales. While it was a noticeable improvement over the more laid back sound of the Marantz PM8006, I still felt it didn't have the punch my speakers needed. But, it was very close. The soundstage was incredible- articulate, detailed, a bit forward, but insanely clear. Finally, my Wharfedales were brought to life!!! Imagine and spatialization were remarkable. Just not quite enough low end punch though for my power thirsty speakers. I really loved this unit- and nearly kept it. But in the end, I chose the NAD C388 amp at 150 WPC, as it really brought out my speakers full capability with plenty of power to spare.

Pros: - stunning clarity - highly musical - plenty of power, even for inefficient speakers - easy to use - solid build quality

Cons: - lack of cohesiveness to the music at higher volumes - no phono stage

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19 of 20 found this helpful

A Solid Option

Steve from Cambridge, VT on 4/7/2020

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This is an excellent amp for the money. It shines in rendering small-to-medium-sized combos playing rock, e.g. Steely Dan, jazz, e.g. Art Pepper, by providing detailed, crisp, clear, dynamic and punchy sound with slam when needed. Vocals, both male and female, carry emotion. The bass is literally visceral. Highs are crystal clear without being fatiguing. However, what is not addressed in most reviews is my impression that it can sound a little smeary when it runs into complex, layered pieces with lots of musicians or arrangements involving the interplay of different sections, such as orchestral or big band music, e.g. Zappa's London Symphony or Yellow Shark recordings. The same holds true for tunes where there is a lot of competition for musical space in the mid-range, e.g. Branford Marsalis' live recording of A Love Supreme. Also it doesn't fully etch out all of the nooks and crannies when it encounters challenging combinations of rhythm and timbre, like up-tempo horn jazz licks like Coltrane's tenor solo on Giant Steps. If you're into music that plays to this amp's strengths you will probably appreciate the headroom (even at 80 wpc), punch, authority in the bass, clear highs and good detail overall. If your tastes go more towards sweeping, sonically diverse, complex, large-group music it might not live up to the expectations created by many of the reviews out there. I'm still giving it 5 stars because, even so, it does deserve them at this price.

Pros: Punchy, dynamic, powerful, clear highs, floor rattling bass

Cons: Better suited to small combo music than to orchestral or big band

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14 of 14 found this helpful

Cambridge Audio CXA81

Crutchfield customer from Yuba City, CA on 3/30/2020

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Excellent amp, paired it with KEF LS50.

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5 of 6 found this helpful

Cambridge Audio CXA81

Crutchfield customer from Pittston, PA on 3/24/2020

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I stumbled into a vintage paid of Ohm Walsh speakers that were 4ohm, so I needed something substantial to move them. After doing some research, I found this amp in my price range. After reading reviews and seeing that it had won awards for its improvements, I was sold. In the few weeks that I have had it, I must say, it's a beautiful piece. It is built like a tank. Everything about it feels solid and "expensive", lol. The packaging was like opening a high end piece of jewelry. The inputs and connectors are great and syncing a Bluetooth device was a breeze (although I bought it to listen to vinyl primarily). The sound and responsieness are more than I could have expected and make me want to throw all of my other equipment away. I've been listening wrong for all of these years. Buy this. You won't regret it.

Pros: Build quality. Sound. Response. Ease of setup.

Cons: No tone controls, but I'm reaching here.

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6 of 6 found this helpful

Good price, amazing sound.

Crutchfield customer from South Jordan, UT on 3/22/2020

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This integrated amplifier answered all my expectations for good stereo sound. It is connected with audioquest cables Rocket 11 by single-biwire to a pair of Kef R3 speakers. It produces a clean, clear and richly detailed sound.

Pros: Good number of digital and analog inputs. DAC of great quality. Incredible sound

Cons: Nothing until now

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4 of 4 found this helpful

Smooth

Crutchfield customer from Grand Rapids, MI on 3/22/2020

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Set up with Klipsch Forte ll the sound is crystal clear open and well defined. Using with B&W 602 2 along with a Polk 100w Sub the highs are just ok lows fine. This is an excellent integrated amp which deserves using with very good allied equipment.

Pros: Set up, sound, appearance

Cons: None

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2 of 2 found this helpful

Cambridge Audio CXA81

Crutchfield customer from Mountain Lakes, NJ on 3/10/2020

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Sounds great and works perfectly with the CXN streamer.

Pros: Obviously very well built and sounds great.

Cons: The remote is a bit hard to figure out but I've only been controlling it with my phone anyway. Sounds is great. I understand the crossover is at a pretty high frequency ~2500 Hz so you might want to control that lower with the subwoofer. Instructions on things like that are a bit thin.

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4 of 4 found this helpful

sublime sound

Aditya from FREMONT, CA on 3/8/2020

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Bought this along with some Monitor 100 silver bookshelfs, and a sonos port (Have the sonos turn this on via the 12v trigger) and the power on this amp is effortless - the sound quality just envelopes you.

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4 of 4 found this helpful

Big improvement in sound quality

Crutchfield customer from Hilton Head, SC on 3/8/2020

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Great products that have greatly improved the sound quality of my audio system. Had some problems with set up; Crutchfield Tech Support supplemented by my own reading solved them eventually. Much better than buying from other online vendors, where you're on your own after purchase.

Pros: Great sound.

Cons: Set up would be easier if manuals were clearer: better explanations to supplement diagrams.

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1 of 1 found this helpful

Cambridge Audio CXA81

Crutchfield customer from Carlsbad, CA on 2/26/2020

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I had a 25-year-old Harmon Kardon receiver before I picked this receiver up. So my perspective may be different than that of an audiophile enthusiast. But this unit is amazing. It has all the power that I wanted to drive my B&W CM5's and CM1's. These speakers can take quite a bit of power. [120 & 100 watts] High Res CD's sound amazing, sharp crisp and very detailed in the delivery of the sound. I have the CM5's in a living room and I can fill the room with excellent sound at all volumes. 15x15. The CM1's are in my kitchen, and they absolutely rock in there. [about a 25-foot run from the receiver.]Spotify sounds so much better than I was anticipating. It's terrific to allow guests to our home to hook up to the Blue tooth to play there own files. This unit was easy to set up. The Crutchfield team offered excellent service. The remote is easy to use, and, It is terrific to adjust the volume from the sofa.

Pros: Sound-power-ease of use.

Cons: Getting use to no base knob.

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5 of 5 found this helpful

Cambridge Audio CXA81

Crutchfield customer from Ft Lauderdale, FL on 2/2/2020

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Good Day All, this is the first review I've ever written, bear with me....... So I've been using a Hitachi HMA 7500 since 1978, now paired with a NAD 165BEE , JRiver, Tidal, DacMagic, and Paradigm Monitors (2 sets and Sub) that are about 30 years old. I know, a very weird combination but in all to me a decent sounding stereo. Just bought the CXA81 because I have to expand and make two stereos out of the kit. Anyways, totally happy, CXA81 works excellently in every regard. I bought this based on all the reviews I could read and cannot be happier. Works even better than expectation....... Don

Pros: Exceptional, easy to setup and use,

Cons: For the cost, absolutely none. Oh, be careful you don't hold the remote upside down and raise the volume rather than lower it. Easy to do with this remote.

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5 of 5 found this helpful

Great sound

Crutchfield customer from Senoia, GA on 1/26/2020

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Performs better than expected. I'm an old school guy, so I'm still learning all that I can do to this unit. Not used to digital inputs and Bluetooth and wi/fi. Hey, it's also fun!!!

Pros: Digital inputs and analog. Powering my new goldenear triton one . Rs. Now you know I have great sound.

Cons: Nothing yet.

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5 of 5 found this helpful

Cambridge Audio CXA81

Crutchfield customer from Yaphank, NY on 1/13/2020

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Very satisfied. I had purchased a Marantz NR1200 and was not happy with it. It sounded shrilly and not much punch. I returned it and sprung for the extra $ and purchased the CXA81. Worth every penny. The rest of my system consists of Q Acoustics Concept 20 mains and dual Cambridge Mind X301 subs.

Pros: Open, punchy, defined bass. Power to spare.

Cons: None

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9 of 9 found this helpful

Simplicity defined. Incredible sound.

Crutchfield customer from Brattleboro, VT on 12/15/2019

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I was pretty sure that I was missing out with my older amp (which was no slouch) but WOW this CXA81 is astounding. I simplified my system greatly yet improved the overall sound quality dramatically. Very pleased with the result. Great amp.

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6 of 6 found this helpful

Cambridge Audio CXA81

Crutchfield customer from Bridgeport, CT on 12/14/2019

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Great sound/

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1 of 1 found this helpful

A Solid, Honest, Presentation of Beautiful Sound

Crutchfield customer from Los Angeles, CA on 12/12/2019

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It's been over a month of my listening to the CXA81 and I just keep enjoying and appreciating it more and more with every bit of music I flow through it. It just projects an honest, up front sound, with a wide stage and plenty of power and detail. With just two bookshelf speakers, I still feel that the details of the music are dancing all around me. It has all the inputs I could ever need minus a phono stage, but I didn't expect or want one built-in. After going though many high-end HiFi amps over the years, the 81 is a keeper and will keep its place as the center of the family sound system for a very long time to come.

Pros: USB input and the variety of other inputs

Cons: No tone controls, which was irritating at first but oddly enough I like not having them now.

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7 of 7 found this helpful

Nice British sound

Crutchfield customer from Diamond Bar, CA on 12/8/2019

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Very nice British Sound, deliver an open sound stage, punchy and clarity of the vocal is amazing.

Pros: Powerful class AB, built in Bluetooth with aptX® HD is a plus.

Cons: No Phono stage.

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3 of 3 found this helpful

Powerful Cambridge AMP

Crutchfield customer from San Marino, CA on 12/2/2019

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I am very satisfy Cambridge Audio CXA81, which delivers powerful, crystal clear music to my floor standing REVEL F208.

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4 of 4 found this helpful

Absolutely brilliant

Crutchfield customer from San Francisco, CA on 11/24/2019

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Very musical and very punchy too. Definitely recommend a Sub to get the best bass. The built in DAC is surprisingly good when paired with a PC thru USB.

Pros:

Cons: I wish they added an ethernet port to allow web or mobile app control.

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6 of 6 found this helpful

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